Almost everything about Vin Diesel is ridiculous. His name sounds like it was given to him by a '50s B-movie producer trying to come up with a moniker for his latest action hero, his football-field-wide nose makes Owen Wilson's schnozz look like Michael Jackson's before he died, and his voice is even more comically deep than Will Arnett's. Fortunately for him, there has never been a film series that revels in ridiculousness quite like the Fast & Furious franchise, making him the perfect centerpiece for these increasingly cartoonish blockbusters.
The sixth installment of the series finds federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) pulling expert street racer and professional thief Dominic Toretto (Diesel) out of retirement and getting Dom's whole crew back together so they can stop a rogue military man named Shaw (Luke Evans) -- who appears to have Dom's former girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who supposedly died two films ago, under his thumb -- from acquiring a device able to cause mass devastation and selling it to the highest bidder on the international terrorist market. Thankfully, Dominic and his trusty mates only have to inflict smaller amounts of devastation in their quest to save the day.
Director Justin Lin, behind the camera for the fourth time in the series, doesn't quite have the chops to pull off the giant set pieces involving multiple cars whizzing around in different directions; he relies on a hyper-edited style that gives you the feeling of frantic action, but he does have the good sense to slow things down ever so slightly when something really insane is going to happen so that you can gawk, laugh, and marvel at the over-the-top visual punch lines.
In the original The Fast and the Furious, Dom summed up his existential philosophy with the sentence, "I live my life a quarter mile at a time." This time around, as he tries to win Letty back, he declares, "You don't turn your back on family, even when they do." That's an interesting change for the character, even if screenwriter Chris Morgan's attempts to give this whole shebang some heart with constant references to the importance of "family" ring totally false.
That said, this franchise has managed to evolve with massive success. Fast Five brought Dwayne Johnson into the fold, and centered on a heist in a way that reinvigorated the series at the box office and even brought in some decent reviews. The people steering this ship deserve credit for not rebooting the series, but letting it transform naturally and keeping the chemistry fresh by adding new actors with every entry; a final scene revealing the next film's bad guy will leave fans ready for number seven. Looking at the profits these movies have generated, it's clear the savvy producers of Fast & Furious 6 live their lives a quarter billion at a time.